Putting European nature back on the map | WWF
Putting European nature back on the map

Posted on 18 March 2020

Brand new research outlines where, why and how the EU should prioritise nature restoration in the upcoming Biodiversity Strategy.
Nature is significantly degraded across much of Europe, impacted by factors such as infrastructure construction, intensive agriculture and forestry, and the disappearance of naturally occurring, large-bodied animals. This is the finding of new research published today by a coalition of NGOs and research institutes, consisting of a series of maps and policy papers, which provide policy-makers with critical and effective new tools to decide why, where and how to restore nature using rewilding principles [1].

The tools developed can help identify EU level priority areas and corridors that need to be protected and restored to improve the overall coherence and connectivity of the Natura 2000 network, using ecological integrity as a baseline.

The policy papers published today by WWF, Rewilding Europe, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, European Environmental Bureau, and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), demonstrate the urgent need for European politicians to prioritise nature restoration in the upcoming EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030. 

The highlight of the papers is a series of new maps which, by helping to identify priority areas for landscape-scale nature restoration across the EU, can deliver critical new connectivity between Europe's Natura 2000 sites. Integrating a range of different data sets, the maps can be used in conjunction with local data to inform and guide policy makers as they plan and deliver nature restoration. 

These maps come at an opportune moment - the European Commission is due to announce its 2030 Biodiversity Strategy soon.

"The European Commission should propose, in the upcoming 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, new legislation that drives large-scale restoration and ensures the connectivity of ecosystems vital for biodiversity and climate," said Sabien Leemans, Senior Policy Officer for Biodiversity at WWF in European Policy Office. “Such legislation must have legally-binding targets to restore ecosystems expressed in square kilometres. Existing policies that undermine nature restoration - such as EU incentives to grow bioenergy crops or harvest forest biomass for energy - need to be revised.”

[1] Rewilding is a form of ecological restoration that promotes self-sustained ecosystems that provide important services to people and nature while requiring minimum human management in the long term. Critical components of rewilding include restoring the ecological role of wild species and their interactions, enhancing connectivity within and among habitats and promoting natural vegetation succession and ecosystem regulation of natural disturbances.

Sabien Leemans
Senior Policy Officer, Biodiversity
+32 486 80 04 37

Edel Shanahan

Communications Officer, Biodiversity and Agriculture
+ 32 484 49 35 15
European bison (Bison bonasus) Bialowieza forest, Poland
© Stefano Unterthiner / Wild Wonders of Europe